Ameera Ladak: Forecast Analyst & Founder of Surviving By Living
Republished with permission from Be The Next Her an Evio Community Partner
Ameera Ladak is a Forecast Analyst at Canadian Tire and the founder of Surviving By Living
What is your morning routine?
My morning routine is calculated almost down to the minute – I joke that I’m in a relentless pursuit of efficiency in all aspects of my life, but in this case, I just really love my bed. I have 3 alarms: a warning alarm, a ‘gentle nudge’ alarm, and an ‘eyes open’ alarm. Easing into the day is important, because I don’t want to start the day anxious, and I like to read before getting out of bed. I fluctuate between reading the LinkedIn Daily Rundown, something from my Harvard Business Review Daily Alerts, or something from Twitter (anything from investigative journalism to a BlogTO listicle about brunch). Once I’ve rolled out of bed, it’s all calculated meticulously. I have to be putting my shoes on by 8:13 am, so I can catch the 8:26 am train to get to my office building by 8:44 am, which gives me enough time to get a full, made-to-order breakfast from the office café so that I’m at my desk by 8:53 am and online by 8:56 am. The reason for having it down to a mechanical science isn’t because I’m that concerned about time, it’s more because I’m SUPER forgetful, and if I deviate from the usual process, I end up forgetting something I definitely need.
Tell us about your career path
I graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce with a double specialization in Transportation & Logistics, and Organizational Behaviour/Human Resources with a concentration in Organizational Consulting from the Sauder School of Business at UBC. I worked my way up the supply chain by starting in a warehouse managing shipment, then into retail inventory management, then full channel inventory management. My current ‘9-5’ is in forecasting – my job is to use data and numbers to predict the future while trying to remove as much bias and emotion from the decisions I make to make them as realistic as possible. My ‘5-9’, which is what I call the work I do on evenings and weekends outside of my main job is the exact opposite – I focus a lot on the mental health space and advocacy, where I lean into emotions to make decisions.
Four years ago I launched a personal blog about mental health, which has reached over 25,000 people in over 85 countries, and since then I’ve worked on two mental health conferences, piloted a university fundraiser, started two awareness and advocacy initiatives, and made countless speeches and presentations about various aspects of mental health. My advocacy work is undoubtedly the most important to me, and it brings me a lot of satisfaction and fulfillment to be able to reach people from all walks of life. It creates an interesting dynamic that the two jobs I have require opposite approaches in a lot of ways, and toggling between the two is a challenge that has forced me to become a lot more emotionally intelligent and self-aware.
My latest initiative, called IMPACT@Work, has been an incredible experience because I’ve merged my two worlds to discuss mental health in the workplace. To see they aren’t so different after all was really eye-opening.
What challenges do you or women face in your industry?
It’s hard to determine which challenges have come from me being a woman, and which challenges are a result of the other parts of my identity. Being a woman, being a visible minority, being brown, being gay, and being someone with a mental illness/disability all contribute to different challenges and experiences in my line of work. That being said, the challenges are all quite similar – being discounted or looked over because I am perceived as less capable, or having to address discrimination and prejudice are common ones. The supply chain industry is dominated by older, white men, who have never been exposed to the idea of privilege. With diversity and inclusion becoming a bigger focus for companies, there is tension and fear that women and other minorities will take jobs away from members of the “Old Boys Club.”
What advice would you give to young girls who want to be the next you?
Don’t be me! Maybe there are parts of me you’d like to see in yourself, but you’re already too good on your own to want to be someone else. People always say life is short, but life can feel really long if you’re not being your whole, authentic self. It’s too long for you to allow yourself to be defined by the boxes that someone else built. So go build the box that’s right for you! It’s really unfortunate to see girls undervalued for their individuality, or for not fitting the mould that someone else has given them, and I don’t think people can reach their potential if they’re not themselves or if they’re trying to be someone else. When you recognize that you’re valuable, and you’re worthy, you can do anything you want.
How do you separate your work life from your personal life?
I used to struggle with this a lot. When my job was really demanding, it was impossible for me to separate the two. I would dream about work, and forget to turn off “Professional Ameera” when I was trying to be “Personal Ameera”. I found myself using corporate jargon with my friends, and asking what the “value add” from us hanging out would be. On the flip side, I started to measure my personal self worth in terms of my professional achievements and that was a slippery slope. I take my work personally, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it creates a lot of pride and passion, but my value as a human should not be dependent on KPIs and corporate metrics. I’ve now learned that it’s important for me to separate the two for my own mental health. In my profession, I have to accept that I am constantly wrong, and the goal is to remove as much emotion and bias from every decision I make. In my personal life, I’m learning to value the “softer side of things” more, and trust my instincts as opposed to searching for hard facts and data since life isn’t black and white.
When it comes to my mental health work, there is really no separation from my work and my personal experience. It’s so close to my heart, and I think that personal connection is really important from an authenticity point of view. Being able to relate to and understand others makes the work that much more meaningful, and it’s why I do it. It wouldn’t work if I didn’t bring my personal life into it. There are definitely challenges with this too, because it’s easy for people to forget that I’m not actually a mental health professional, and there are times when someone is being open and sharing their story, but I will personally find it triggering. Setting limits for my personal well-being is key to ensuring I’m not only making the best decisions for myself, but also the people I work with.
What inspires you?
I’m constantly inspired by people who surprise me, the people around them, and most importantly, themselves. It doesn’t take something big and grand to inspire me, but seeing someone do something that someone else thought wasn’t possible, or something that wasn’t expected of them, is really inspiring. Breaking boundaries, defying the odds, and rising up in the face of adversity are all part of this. When we look at some of the powerful movements we’ve seen lately with #MarchForOurLives or #MeToo, where the individuals leading the charge would easily have been overlooked, I get inspired. I find myself motivated by the word “NO” and when someone tries to convince me I am incapable of something. Seeing other people do that as well is amazing.
When you’re off the clock, what are your indulgences?
My friends often tell me I’m more of a middle-aged man than a young woman because nothing makes me happier than settling in on the couch with some scotch and an old book. I like to keep my weekends as free as possible in order to recharge and relax, so Netflix is undoubtedly a big indulgence. During the week, I usually like to get out and enjoy the amazing food scene we have in Toronto, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know some of the best spots for cocktails in the city.